"It was two different games," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley of the line score in the series finale. "It was the first six innings -- which was a baseball game -- and the last couple, which I'd just as soon forget."
Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie pitched through a strange game that saw him allow several baserunners and still stay competitive. The right-hander allowed the leadoff man to reach base in five of his six innings and tied a career high by allowing 12 hits, but he worked out of a few jams and went into the sixth inning with a tied game.
Hideki Matsui, New York's designated hitter, pushed the Yankees ahead with a two-run single off Guthrie in the sixth, and then he played a starring role in the eight-run ambush. Matsui hit a three-run home run off Chris Waters, and Bob McCrory faced four hitters and didn't retire any of them to help the game barrel off the tracks.
"I feel worse for the guys that I put in there than for anything else," said Trembley. "You've got to feel bad for the ballclub because we played so good in the series and we had a chance. We kept it close, but their lineup is such where you give them any kind of breathing room at all, they're going to jump on you.
"Waters pitched well his first inning out there and then he throws a cutter to Matsui that gets the middle of the plate, and he hits a home run. And McCrory just had a day that he'd rather forget. We won two out of three. I wish we could have broken through for maybe one or two more hits early in the ballgame. We certainly hit a lot of balls right on the screws."
New York (92-52) got its first run in the first inning, marking the seventh time in eight games that Baltimore has given up a run in its opponent's first at-bat. The Orioles turned that early deficit around by loading the bases and scoring twice against CC Sabathia in the second inning, crafting a lead that would last until the fourth.
Baltimore (58-84) got another run in the top half of the fourth courtesy of a miscue by left fielder Johnny Damon, who forgot how many outs there were. Justin Turner was able to tag from second base and come all the way around to score on a ball to deep left, but New York strung together four hits and scored twice against Guthrie in the bottom half of the inning.
"I think I threw 20 pitches out of the windup the entire game," said Guthrie. "I was always pitching in trouble, always pitching with men on. I think the rhythm was a little bit stranger than normal. I threw a ton of changeups, a ton of sliders. I never really got a chance to establish the fastball because of the way the game was going."
Guthrie (10-14) had won three of his previous four decisions, but he couldn't keep the Yankees from clogging the basepaths. New York stranded two runners in the first inning, and Guthrie got a key double play in the second. The former first-round draftee stranded another two runners in the third before his luck began to turn.
The Yankees managed four straight hits against the Orioles in the fourth, but two of them were softly hit. New York scored the game-tying run on a fielder's choice and pulled ahead in the sixth on a tense at-bat. The Yankees managed to load the bases with two outs, and Matsui singled through the infield to take the lead.
"We got some big outs in big circumstances," said Guthrie. "Unfortunately, we couldn't get the last one. I kept the ball in the yard again -- for a couple of games in a row, no home run. That's always a big positive. The numbers were worse than I felt. I thought it was just a very strange game. I was always pitching with guys on, mixing in so many changeups and so many sliders, trying to get a big double play or a big out. Unfortunately, it didn't work out."
"He threw the ball really well," added catcher Chad Moeller. "That Matsui base hit really hurt, but we were initiating contact the whole game. We wanted contact, and we were making pitches when we had to. That's the name of this game. I feel bad for him that he has to take the wrong side of this one, because he did throw the ball well."
The Orioles, who took the first two games of the series and threatened to earn their first sweep in New York since 1986, had a few chances of their own against Sabathia. The left-hander stranded a run at third base in the third inning, and then he managed to coax a groundout from Matt Wieters with two runners on base in the fourth.
And after Damon's gaffe in left field, Sabathia (17-7) got downright unhittable. The former American League Cy Young Award winner retired 11 of the final 13 batters he faced and got a threat-ending double play in the seventh.
"Hes a tough pitcher," said Moeller. "We had a lot of good at-bats on him, and he wasn't really making some of the best pitches, like when we saw him at our place earlier in the season. That guy can pitch. There's a reason they got him over there. There's a reason they wanted him.
"He goes out there and eats up innings for them and for the most part makes it tough for the other team. We got some runs, but he made it tough on us to get them."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.